How To Get From Istanbul To Pamukkale? Best Ways To Travel In 2023

How To Get From Istanbul To Pamukkale

Istanbul and Pamukkale’s Cotton Castle are two essential destinations on most people’s Turkey itinerary. But as you may know by now, Turkey is a huge country! And getting from Istanbul to Pamukkale isn’t exactly something you can just wing at the last minute.

But we got you covered! We are here to help you figure out the best ways to get from Istanbul to Pamukkale and the Cotton Castle. There are plenty of convenient options to choose from to get to Pamukkale, so it really comes down to your personal preference, travel style and budget.

So whether it’s by plane, train, bus or car, this post will help you decide the best way to visit Pamukkale from Istanbul and from other popular destinations like Cappadocia, Antalya and Izmir.

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

The Best Ways To Travel From Istanbul To Pamukkale

1. Istanbul To Pamukkale By Bus:

Turkey has a phenomenal bus system. We traveled by bus to almost every single one of our stops around this fabulous country, and we couldn’t recommend it more. Buses in Turkey are comfortable, safe, and almost always run on time. The only downside is that sometimes the bus driver smokes while driving. But that’s Turkey for you!

But despite how much we think Turkey’s bus system rocks, you’d be surprised to learn that there is no direct bus service from Istanbul to Pamukkale.

To clarify, Pamukkale is also the town’s name where the Cotton Castle is located.

To get from Istanbul to Pamukkale, you first need to buy a ticket to Denizli, the regional capital. You can find a local bus called Dolmus (pronounced ‘dolmoosh’) from Denizli’s modern bus terminal for only a few Lira. The local buses that make the 30-minute trip to Pamukkale can be found on the bottom floor of the bus station in the garage area.

The best place to find the bus schedule from Istanbul to Pamukkale is on You can purchase your tickets online with a foreign credit card. Or you can just buy the bus tickets at the station.

  • Average ticket price from Istanbul to Pamukkale (Denizli): 23 Euro ($25 US).
  • Approximate travel time from Istanbul to Pamukkale (Denizli): 10 – 12 hours

WOTW Tip #1: we would advise you to book your bus ticket online. Istanbul to Pamukkale is a popular route, so better to be on the safe side.

WOTW Tip #2: Istanbul has bus stations on the European side and Asian (Anatolian) side. Make sure you buy tickets that depart from the correct station – which most likely be ‘Esenler Otogari’ on the European side.

Also read: 37 things nobody tells you about visiting Pamukkale Turkey!

2. Istanbul To Pamukkale By Plane

Turkey has a ton of domestic airports. And you will find that domestic flights from Istanbul to Pamukkale are an affordable and efficient way to travel. Flights from Istanbul (SAW) arrive at the nearby Denizli Cardak Airport (DNZ). The following carriers have direct flights from Istanbul:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Pegasus Airlines
  • Aztec

WOTW tip: Local buses known as Havas (the company is called Havabus) provide affordable transportation to Turkey’s airports, including Istanbul’s airports. Some of these buses depart from Taksim Square (Istanbul’s European side) or Kadikoy (Istanbul’s Asian or Anatolian side).

Denizli Çardak Airport (DNZ) is located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) from Pamukkale. There is no public transportation directly from the airport to Pamukkale. You will either need to transfer to Denizli’s bus station or arrange for a private pick-up with your hotel or other private-shuttle services. Taxis are also a convenient and reasonably priced option.

WOTW Tip #1: we try to take the bus as much as possible. It is more affordable and better for the environment compared to flying! But we understand that not everyone has the luxury of time like we do. Sometimes you just want to get to your destination fast while on vacation.

WOTW Tip #2: Istanbul has three airports. Most domestic flights leave from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW), located on Istanbul’s Asian/Anatolian side.

3. Getting To Pamukkale From Istanbul By Train

Turkey is not known for having the most epic passenger-train network. But that being said, it is possible to get from Istanbul to Pamukkale by train. In fact, it’s pretty simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Take the high-speed train from Istanbul to Eskisehir.
    • 3-hour journey.
  2. Jump on a mainline train (slow train) from Eskisehir to Denizli.
    • 8-hour journey.
  3. Find a local bus or taxi to take you from Denizli to Pamukkale.
    • 30-minute drive.

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

The train lines on these routes are all modern and comfortable. They also offer different classes of service to make your trip as comfortable (or affordable) as possible.

WOTW Tip: book in advance online or at the train station!

4. Getting To Pamukkale From Istanbul By Car

Getting to Pamukkale from Istanbul with a private car is also an option for those who want a little more flexibility. As discussed above, the distance is long (572 km), so hopefully you will have a co-driver that can take the wheel from time to time.

Driving on Turkish highways is relatively simple. The roads are in good shape, and there are only a few nuances to be aware of regarding Turkish driving habits. Most notably, old and slow cars hug the shoulder of the road, and you are expected to just blow by them. This can be awkward at first because these cars are just there, on the side of the road driving at a super slow pace. But you’ll get used to it!

Like other modes of transportation, driving from Istanbul to Pamukkale will also require a stop in Denizli to drop off your car if Pamukkale is your final destination.

WOTW Tip: only the international rental agencies will allow you to drop off the car in a different city. Avis, Budget and Enterprise had the option to pick up in Istanbul and drop off in Denizli when we checked.

5. Taking A Tour To Pamukkale From Istanbul

There are ‘day tours’ that will take you from Istanbul to Pamukkale. But just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. Most day trips include domestic flights going to and from Pamukkale on the same day. So prepared for an extra-long day of travel to make it to the Cotton Castle and back.

The plus side of going from Istanbul to Pamukkale on a tour is that you won’t have to manage much of the logistics. Every step of the way will be planned for you. All you have to do is set your alarm and make sure you pull yourself out of bed for your hotel pick-up.

Truth be told, we can not recommend this type of tour. You will arrive at Pamukkale well after it opens, meaning the crowds will be thick. And what’s worse, you will be required to leave before the sunset in Pamukkale. Sunset from the Cotton Castle is the best part of the experience! We also think that the town of Pamukkale is a charming place to stay for a couple nights.

In case you are wondering about time, most tours allow about 4 hours inside Pamukkale. This scheduled time includes visits to travertine terraces, Cleopatra’s Pool and the Hierapolis ruins.

We share more details about Pamukkale in this post: 37 Things Nobody Tells You About Visiting Pamukkale, Turkey (must read before you visit!)

Getting To Pamukkale From Other Popular Cities In Turkey

By Bus

  • Izmir to Pamukkale: 3 – 4 hours.
  • Antalya to Pamukkale: 3 – 4 hours.
  • Cappadocia to Pamukkale: 9 – 11 hours.

By Plane

  • Izmir to Pamukkale (Denizli): no direct flights. Stopover in Istanbul.
  • Antalya to Pamukkale (Denizli): no direct flights. Stopover in Istanbul.
  • Cappadocia to Pamukkale (Denizli): no direct flights leaving from Kayseri in Cappadocia. Stopover in Istanbul.

Note: The bus is more efficient for people traveling from Izmir or Antalya to Pamukkale. However, flying from Cappadocia to Pamukkale is faster than taking the bus despite the layover.

By Train

  • Izmir to Pamukkale (Denizli): it is possible on a ‘local’ train. The trip takes between 5 – 6 hours.
  • Antalya to Pamukkale: no direct train connection.
  • Cappadocia to Pamukkale: it is possible to get from Kayseri to Denizli, but it is a super convoluted trip and not recommended.

Final Thoughts

I hope this post helps you get to the famous Cotton Castle with ease. As always, please reach out in the comments if you have any questions about making the trip from Istanbul to Pamukkale. We are always happy to help!

Thanks for reading!


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